The Big Green Salad.
I eat some version of this EVERY DAY. That may sound really bland and monotonous but I’m at the point if I miss a day without my Big Green Salad I feel I’m missing something.
A big salad like this is very versatile and it can be “customized” however you may like it by following the guidelines listed below. The more and different variety of veggies the more nutritious it is. It is extremely filling and full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (healthy substances found in plants) that will work to build and sustain a healthy body. Pair this with a small portion of meat and maybe a piece of fruit and you have yourself a complete lunch that will have very little effect on blood sugar (thereby preventing mid-afternoon fatigue and brain fog) and will keep you full and happy until dinner time. See my suggestions below but feel free to be creative in creating your Big Green Salad!
The Big Green Salad
This is an excellent lunch choice as it is highly nutritious with vitamins minerals and other nutrients, full of protein and healthy fats, and low carb—all of this will leave you satisfied and will prevent mid-afternoon crashes or hunger. You will stay full until dinner time!
The Base: Greens like spinach, arugula, kale…whatever nutritious greens you like (sorry, iceberg lettuce doesn’t really count but if you can’t stand the dark, leafy greens it’s ok to use iceberg lettuce if it “teaches” you to like the other stuff). Pile lots of this in your salad bowl or container.
Veggies: be creative and vary it up from time to time. Add broccoli, cauliflower, onions, peppers, carrots, radishes, mushrooms, leeks…. whatever you like! Don’t be afraid to go “heavy” on the veggies as these are typically quite low in calories, are full of nutrients and high in fiber.
Cheese (if you tolerate dairy): stick with the hard, dry cheeses, such as feta cheese or blue cheese crumbles. Other options are goat cheeses, hard cheddar cheeses and various other kinds of hard, dry cheeses.
Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios. Whatever you like or a combination. If you are trying to lose weight be careful not to overdo it with the nuts as they are quite calorically dense.
Meat (optional—some people prefer to just eat their meat on the side): if you have some left-over chicken, steak or fish, feel free to throw this on top. It adds more protein to an already nutritious salad. If you make your own bacon feel free to chop this up and throw on top but avoid commercially made bacon pieces (like Bac-O’s) as these are not healthy.
Fruit: if you are one of those people who likes fruit on their salad (I am not one of those) then maybe some berries would be ok. Avoid any dried fruit, like raisins or cranberries, as these contain large amounts of sugar
Avocado: this is technically a fruit although it is not sweet. I love avocados—these are full of healthy fats and other nutrients. Try half or a whole avocado sliced up on your salad.
Dressing: it is vital that you are cautious about what you use as a salad dressing. Avoid most commercial salad dressings as these are highly processed and contain rancid oils like soybean oil, vegetable oil and other unhealthy oils. Be wary of dressings that advertise “Olive Oil” because most of these do contain olive oil, but often as a second or third ingredient behind the other bad oils. If you do buy a salad dressing in the store, stick with paleo friendly companies like Primal Kitchen which uses avocado oil.
The preferred option: I use either my own olive oil or avocado oil. I then add something like apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar or coconut amines. 1-2 TBSP of olive or avocado oil should suffice—you may want to measure it out so you don’t pour too much on top and really skyrocket your calorie intake.
Avoid: croutons, seeds, Bac-O’s, most commercial salad dressings